Gerd S. Curtis

PHOTOGRAPHER:

On Oct. 12, Gerd S. Curtis of Johnstown died of COPD
and numerous ailments at the Mountain Valley Hospice
House. Gerd was born on June 28, 1928 in Oslo,
Norway. As a teenager, she was part of the opposition
to the Nazi occupation, reporting on the activities of
Nazi sympathizers. Despite the hardships of the occupation,
Gerd was able to practice many sports and
activities. She excelled scholastically and learned
several languages. She developed an abiding love for
the natural world and outdoor adventure.
When Gerd was 17, the war finally ended. In the
euphoric early days of liberation, she met a young
American soldier, Donald Curtis, who was posted to
Norway to help with the restoration of a free government.
They fell in love before Don was honorably discharged
to his home in Johnstown, NY.
Gerd remained in Norway to complete high school
education at Norway’s premier academic high school,
graduating in 1947 as salutatorian. She had not forgotten
Don, nor he her. Alone, she crossed the Atlantic.
When she walked down the long gang plank with
her skis over her shoulder, blond hair shining and
slender figure swinging with her stride, Don swelled
with pride. The sight of her descending the ship to
the arms of a young veteran pleased the other people
waiting on shore. They broke out in applause. It was a
warm welcome to her new home.
Gerd and Don immediately got married and began
their life in Johnstown. They enthusiastically began
building a vacation home on West Stoner Lake, cutting
logs from the land and hauling rock from the lake
for the chimney. Gerd was soon pregnant. Her son
Donald Eric was born in May the next year. A few
years later Ingrid was born. These early years were
full and rewarding but difficult. Whatever spare time
she found went into building her friendships and the
little lakeside cabin. This Adirondack retreat grew
into the heart and soul of the family’s life.
Gerd became part of the Johnstown community, participating
in school events, leading a Brownie troop
and serving on the Wells House advisory committee.
Her special contribution was in skiing. She helped to
found Royal Mountain Ski Area, the ski school and the
ski club. She taught a generation of Johnstown children
to ski. She was part of a decades running bridge
club and was an excellent card player. As she grew
older, Gerd was able to welcome two granddaughters
into her heart and see them as often as she could lure
them to camp or Johnstown. One of her beautiful accomplishments
was her wildflower garden at Stoner
Lake. She created a fairyland of flowers that delighted
all who saw it. She took up golf.
With Don’s retirement, they were able to travel. On
a trip to Norway, Gerd realized that she had grown
into an American and on return became a citizen.
Gerd and Don divided their time among Johnstown,
camp and North Carolina for a number of years, making
new friends who helped ease the pain of losing so
many old friends to relocation and death.
In 2010, Gerd’s beloved son Don died and broke
Gerd’s heart. Her health rapidly deteriorated. The
last years were hard. However, she was able to remain
at home until the end with the help of her husband.
When she died, they had been married for 74 years,
through good times and hard times.
Gerd is survived by her husband Donald A. Curtis,
her daughter Ingrid Curtis, her son-in-law Douglas P.
Hill, two grandchildren Aurora and Karin Curtis-Hill,
and found son Richard Beard. Her son Donald Eric
Curtis pre-deceased her.
We will not have a funeral. At some future date, we
will hold a small memorial service. Hospice has been
an enormous help and comfort to Gerd and her family.
We thank them for helping Gerd to stay at home
with her husband. Any memorial donations you wish
to make should be made out to the Mountain Valley
Hospice in Gloversville.

By Leader-Herald

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